Wed, 26 Apr 2017
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- While searching for a connection today often means looking for Wi-Fi, Pope Francis said real connections between people are the only hope for the future. "How wonderful would it be if the growth of scientific and technological innovation would come along with more equality and social inclusion," he said in a video talk played April 25 for 1,800 people attending TED 2017 in Vancouver, British Columbia, and posted online with subtitles in 20 languages. "How wonderful would it be, while we discover faraway planets, to rediscover the needs of the brothers and sisters orbiting around us," the pope said in the talk that TED organizers had been advertising as that of a "surprise guest." Pope Francis spoke to the international conference about combating the current "culture of waste" and "techno-economic systems" that prioritize products, money and things over people. "Good intentions and conventional formulas, so often used to appease our conscience, are not enough," he said. "Let us help each other, all together, to remember that the other is not a statistic or a number. The other has a face." Many people in the world move along paths "riddled with suffering" with no one to care for them, the pope said. Far too many people who consider themselves "respectable" simply pass by, leaving thousands on "the side of the road." "The more powerful you are, the more your actions will have an impact on people," he said, the greater the responsibility one has to act and to do so with humility. "If you don't, your power will ruin you, and you will ruin the other." "There is a saying in Argentina," he told his audience: "'Power is like drinking gin on an empty stomach.' You feel dizzy, you get drunk, you lose your balance, and you will end up hurting yourself and those around you, if you don't connect your power with humility and tenderness." "The future of humankind isn't exclusively in the hands of politicians, of great leaders, of big companies," he said, even though they all have power and responsibility. "The future is, most of all, in the hands of those people who recognize the other as a 'you' and themselves as part of an 'us.'" Pope Francis said that when he visits someone who is sick or in prison or has been forced to flee war, he always asks himself, "Why them and not me?" Telling the tech-savvy crowd that he wanted to talk about "revolution," the pope asked people to join a very connected and interconnected "revolution of tenderness." Tenderness, he said, is "love that comes close and becomes real," something that begins in the heart but translates into listening and action, comforting those in pain and caring for others and for "our sick and polluted earth." "Tenderness is the path of choice for the strongest, most courageous men and women," he insisted. "Tenderness is not weakness; it is fortitude. It is the path of solidarity, the path of humility." Pope Francis also urged the crowd to hold on to hope, a feeling that does not mean acting "optimistically naive" or ignoring the tragedies facing humanity. Instead, he said, hope is the "virtue of a heart that doesn't lock itself into darkness." "A single individual is enough for hope to exist." he added. "And that individual can be you. And then there will be another 'you,' and another 'you, and it turns into an 'us.'" TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) is a media organization that posts talks online for free distribution, under the slogan "ideas worth spreading." TED was founded in February 1984 as a conference, which has been held annually since 1990.
Wed, 26 Apr 2017
The immortal Yogi Berra said it best: “It’s déjà vu all over again.” That was my first reaction to the news that a new Vatican commission had been established some time back to consider — again — the question of liturgical translations. Really, you can’t help wondering if another round in the debate about the words of the Mass is exactly what disputatious Catholics — already arguing among themselves over everything from immigration policy to the eighth chapter of Amoris Laetitia — need right now. On the whole, I’d say it wasn’t. The aims of this new commission, established within the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, are said to be two. First, a review of the norms established by Pope St. John Paul II in 2001 for translating the Latin texts of the Mass and the sacraments into English and other vernacular languages. Second, decentralization of the task of liturgical translation in order to give more authority to national bishops’ conferences. For a few thoughts about each of these matters, let’s begin with a bit of history. Reading what the Second Vatican Council actually said in its liturgy constitution, Sacrosanctum Concilium , makes it perfectly clear that the Council Fathers, while approving some use of the vernacular, took it for granted that Latin would remain largely the language of the Mass and the sacraments. The rush to a 100 percent vernacular liturgy after the council was the bright idea of liturgical reformers rather than Vatican II. The early version of the Mass in English was clunky and pedestrian. Even worse, it was done by the principle of “dynamic equivalence,” which, whatever else it may have meant, didn’t mean strict adherence to the Latin text. The papal corrective of 2001, in a document called Liturgiam Authenticam , marked a shift from dynamic equivalence to “formal equivalence” — closer to the Latin, that is. Which brings us, roughly, to the current version of the Mass in English. Hardly perfect, it’s nevertheless an improvement over what came before it. And to people who are still fretting over “consubstantial” in the creed, I say: Live with it; it won’t do you any harm. Similarly unpersuasive is the suggestion to give more control over translations to conferences of bishops. Having sat through many hours of debate on just this subject as a staff member of the U.S. Conference and later as a reporter covering bishops’ meetings, I conclude that this isn’t something you want to leave to a committee of 200-plus people — not even earnest, well-disposed ones like these. That said, it’s undoubtedly true that there really is a problem about the liturgy today. But the problem doesn’t have a lot to do with the translations. Nor does it lie in liturgical aberrations like clown Masses and balloons, which came and went during the days of craziness half a century ago. The underlying problem instead is the decline of the sacramental sense — the fragile discernment of transcendence amid the limitations of our immanence — which has been going on in Western culture over the last several centuries (and which, one might add, is unlikely to be halted, much less reversed, by translating the Mass into the vernacular). For a serious, erudite discussion of this matter, I recommend a careful reading of “Real Presences,” (University of Chicago Press, $14.99) a difficult but illuminating volume published years ago by the critic George Steiner. Meanwhile let’s wish that new Vatican commission well. But let’s also hope the commission doesn’t see more tinkering with translations as the answer to a deeper problem. Russell Shaw is an OSV Newsweekly contributing editor.
Tue, 25 Apr 2017
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Praying that God would protect Egypt from all evil, Pope Francis told the nation's people that a world torn apart by indiscriminate violence needs courageous builders of peace, dialogue and justice. "I hope that this visit will be an embrace of consolation and of encouragement to all Christians in the Middle East; a message of friendship and esteem to all inhabitants of Egypt and the region; a message of fraternity and reconciliation to all children of Abraham, particularly in the Islamic world," the pope said in a video message broadcast April 25, ahead of his April 28-29 trip to Cairo. "I hope that it may also offer a valid contribution to interreligious dialogue with the Islamic world and to ecumenical dialogue with the venerated and beloved Coptic Orthodox Church," he said. The pope thanked all those who invited him to Egypt, those who were working to make the trip possible and those "who make space for me in your hearts." He said he was "truly happy to come as a friend, as a messenger of peace and as a pilgrim to the country that gave, more than 2,000 years ago, refuge and hospitality to the Holy Family fleeing from the threats of King Herod." "Our world, torn by blind violence, which has also afflicted the heart of your dear land, needs peace, love and mercy; it needs workers for peace, free and liberating people, courageous people able to learn from the past to build a future without closing themselves up in prejudices; it needs builders of bridges of peace, dialogue, brotherhood, justice, and humanity," he said. Honored to visit the land visited by the Holy Family, the pope asked everyone for their prayers as he assured every one of his. "Dear Egyptian brothers and sisters, young and elderly, women and men, Muslims and Christians, rich and poor ... I embrace you warmly and ask God almighty to bless you and protect your country from every evil." He said it was "with a joyful and grateful heart" that he was heading to Egypt -- the "cradle of civilization, gift of the Nile, land of sun and hospitality, where patriarchs and prophets lived" and where God -- benevolent, merciful, and the one and almighty -- made his voice heard. The day the video was released, April 25, was also the feast day of St. Mark, who evangelized the Egyptian port city of Alexandria, Egypt, before being martyred there. Pope Francis dedicated his morning Mass to "my brother Tawadros II, patriarch of Alexandria" of the Coptic Orthodox church, asking that God abundantly "bless our two churches." In Egypt, President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi said Egypt would welcome the pope and "looks forward to this significant visit to strengthen peace, tolerance and interfaith dialogue as well as to reject the abhorrent acts of terrorism and extremism." Christians in Egypt, Syria and Iraq struggle with mounting pressures from extremists challenging their religious identity and the right to practice their faith and continue to exist in their ancestral homelands. Pope Francis has urged an end to what he called a "genocide" against Christians in the Middle East, but he also has said it was wrong to equate Islam with violence. Christians are among the oldest religious communities in the Middle East, but their numbers are dwindling in the face of conflict and persecution. Egypt's Christian community makes up about 10 percent of the country's 92 million people. A high point in the pope's schedule is an international peace conference at Cairo's al-Azhar University, the world's highest authority on Sunni Islam, hosted by Sheik Ahmad el-Tayeb, grand imam of the educational institution. Pope Tawadros and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, the spiritual head of the Eastern Orthodox churches, are also expected to participate. The pope will also meet separately with el-Sissi and other officials. Observers will be watching whether the pope will take on thorny issues with his hosts, such as the detention of thousands of Egyptians, without due process, simply held ...
Tue, 25 Apr 2017
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Despite the ongoing risk of terrorism, Pope Francis planned to travel to Egypt as a sign of being close to the people there, said Greg Burke, Vatican spokesman. Heightened security is part of the "new normal" in many countries, but even in the wake of the Palm Sunday attacks in Egypt, it is the pope's desire "to go ahead, to also be a sign of his closeness" to those affected by violence and all the people of Egypt, Burke told journalists April 24. At a Vatican briefing outlining some details of the pope's trip to Cairo April 28-29, a reporter asked if there were any worries or concerns about the pope's security. Burke, speaking in Italian, said he wouldn't use the word "worries" or concerns, but would say that "we live in a world where it is now something that is part of life." He added, "However, we move ahead with serenity." Additional reading Pope to Egyptians: Let papal visit be sign of friendship, peace The pope has requested that a "normal car" -- not an armored vehicle -- be used when he is driven from one venue to another, Burke said. It will not be an open-topped vehicle, he added. The pope will use a "golf cart," however, rather than the open-air popemobile when he makes the rounds through the crowds at the air defense stadium, where Mass will be celebrated April 29. He also will use the golf cart for circulating among the more than 1,000 seminarians, religious and clergy expected to attend an outdoor prayer service at the Coptic Catholic Church's St. Leo's Patriarchal Seminary in the Cairo suburb of Maadi April 28. Burke said that after Pope Francis' private meeting with Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II, at the patriarch's residence April 28, the two leaders will go together to the nearby church of Sts. Peter and Paul, which had been bombed during a Sunday Mass in December 2016, killing 24 people and injuring at least 45 others. They will pray "for all the victims from these past years and months, pray for Christians killed," Burke said. The two will leave flowers outside the church, light a candle and then have a moment of prayer for the victims from the December attack, the Vatican spokesman said. Soon afterward, the pope will go to the apostolic nunciature, where he will be staying, and will greet a group of children who attend a Comboni-run school in Cairo and later will greet more than 300 young people who made a pilgrimage to Cairo to see the pope, he added.
Mon, 24 Apr 2017
ROME (CNS) -- The Christian church today needs believers who witness each day to the power of God's love, but it also needs the heroic witness of those who stand up to hatred even when it means giving up their lives, Pope Francis said. At Rome's Basilica of St. Bartholomew, a shrine to modern martyrs, Pope Francis presided over an evening prayer service April 22, honoring Christians killed under Nazism, communism, dictatorships and terrorism. "These teach us that with the force of love and with meekness one can fight arrogance, violence and war, and that with patience peace is possible," the pope said in his homily in the small basilica on Rome's Tiber Island. Departing from his prepared text, Pope Francis said he wanted to add to the martyrs remembered at St. Bartholomew by including "a woman -- I don't know her name -- but she watches from heaven." The pope said he'd met the woman's husband, a Muslim, in Lesbos, Greece, when he visited a refugee camp there in 2016. The man told the pope that one day, terrorists came to their home. They saw his wife's crucifix and ordered her to throw it on the ground. She refused and they slit her throat. "I don't know if that man is still at Lesbos or if he has been able to leave that 'concentration camp,'" the pope said, explaining that despite the good will of local communities many refugee camps are overcrowded and are little more than prisons "because it seems international agreements are more important than human rights." But, getting back to the story of the Muslim man who watched his wife be murdered, the pope said, "Now it's that man, a Muslim, who carries this cross of pain." "So many Christian communities are the object of persecution today! Why? Because of the hatred of the spirit of this world," the pope said. Jesus has "rescued us from the power of this world, from the power of the devil," who hates Jesus' saving power and "creates the persecution, which from the time of Jesus and the early church continues up to our day." "What does the church need today?" the pope asked. "Martyrs and witnesses, those everyday saints, those saints of an ordinary life lived with coherence. But it also needs those who have the courage to accept the grace of being witnesses to the end, to the point of death. All of those are the living blood of the church," those who "witness that Jesus is risen, that Jesus lives." Under a large icon depicting modern martyrs of the gulag and concentration camp, Pope Francis prayed: "O Lord, make us worthy witnesses of your Gospel and your love; pour out your mercy on humanity; renew your church; protect persecuted Christians; and quickly grant the whole world peace." During the prayer service, Pope Francis wore a stole that had belonged to Chaldean Father Ragheed Aziz Ganni, who was murdered in Mosul, Iraq, in 2007. Father Ganni's stole along with dozens of other items that belonged to men and women martyred in the 20th and 21st centuries are on display on the side altars at the basilica, which is cared for by the lay Sant'Egidio Community. During the prayer service, at which Anglican, Lutheran and Orthodox clergy were involved, people who had been close to those honored as martyrs at the shrine spoke. Karl A. Schneider's father, the Rev. Paul Schneider, was the first Protestant pastor martyred by the Nazis for opposing their hate-filled doctrine. He was married and the father of six children. "My father was assassinated in 1939 in the Buchenwald concentration camp because he believed the objectives of National Socialism were irreconcilable with the words of the Bible," Schneider told the congregation. "All of us, still today, make too many compromises, but my father remained faithful only to the Lord and to the faith." The next to speak was Roselyne Hamel, the sister of French Father Jacques Hamel, who was murdered as he celebrated Mass July 26, 2016. The Archdiocese of Rouen has begun his sainthood cause with Pope Francis' approval. Father Hamel's breviary is ...
Thu, 20 Apr 2017
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis will declare the sainthood of Blessed Jacinta Marto and Blessed Francisco Marto, two of the shepherd children who saw Mary in Fatima, Portugal, during his visit to the site of the apparitions May 13. The date was announced April 20 during an "ordinary public consistory," a meeting of the pope, cardinals and promoters of sainthood causes that formally ends the sainthood process. Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for Saints' Causes, addressing the assembly noted that of the future saints considered at the consistory, five were children or young teenagers. "In our time, where young people often become objects of exploitation and commerce, these young people excel as witnesses of truth and freedom, messengers of peace (and) of a new humanity reconciled in love," the cardinal said. At the same consistory, the pope set Oct. 15 as the date for the canonizations of two priests and two groups of martyrs, including Blessed Cristobal, Blessed Antonio and Blessed Juan -- also known as the "Child Martyrs of Tlaxcala" -- who were among the first native converts in Mexico. They were killed between 1527 and 1529 for refusing to renounce the faith and return to their people's ancient traditions. Pope Francis will preside over the canonization ceremony of the Fatima visionaries during his visit to Fatima May 12-13. The pilgrimage will mark the 100th anniversary of the Marian apparitions, which began May 13, 1917, when 9-year-old Francisco and 7-year-old Jacinta, along with their cousin Lucia dos Santos, reported seeing the Virgin Mary. The apparitions continued once a month until Oct. 13, 1917, and later were declared worthy of belief by the Catholic Church. A year after the apparitions, both of the Marto children became ill during an influenza epidemic that plagued Europe. Francisco died April 4, 1919, at the age of 10, while Jacinta succumbed to her illness Feb. 20, 1920, at the age of 9. Francisco and Jacinta's cause for canonization was stalled for decades due to a debate on whether non-martyred children have the capacity to understand heroic virtues at a young age. However, in 1979, St. John Paul II allowed their cause to proceed; he declared them venerable in 1989 and beatified them in 2000. The children's cousin entered the Carmelites. Sister Lucia died in 2005 at the age of 97. The diocesan phase of her sainthood cause concluded in February and now is under study at the Vatican. The other canonizations set to take place Oct. 15 include: -- The "Martyrs of Natal," Brazil, including: Blessed Andre de Soveral, a Jesuit priest; Blessed Ambrosio Francisco Ferro, a diocesan priest; Blessed Mateus Moreira, a layman; and 27 others. They were killed in 1645 in a wave of anti-Catholic persecution carried out by Dutch Calvinists. -- Blessed Faustino Miguez, a Spanish priest and member Piarist Fathers born in 1831. He started an advanced school for girls at a time when such education was limited almost exclusively to boys. While he taught a variety of subjects and wrote numerous textbooks, he also honed an interest in botany, which led him to find a cure for a professor so ill that he was thought to be beyond hope. People then came to him from all parts of the country seeking relief from their sicknesses. -- Blessed Angelo da Acri, an Italian Capuchin priest who was born Luca Antonio Falcone. A famed preacher, he was known for his defense of the poor. He died in 1739 and was beatified by Pope Leo XII in 1825.
Mon, 17 Apr 2017
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Jesus is the risen shepherd who takes upon his shoulders "our brothers and sisters crushed by evil in all its varied forms," Pope Francis said before giving his solemn Easter blessing. With tens of thousands of people gathered in St. Peter's Square April 16, the pope called on Christians to be instruments of Christ's outreach to refugees and migrants, victims of war and exploitation, famine and loneliness. For the 30th year in a row, Dutch farmers and florists blanketed the area around the altar with grass and 35,000 flowers and plants: lilies, roses, tulips, hyacinths, daffodils, birch and linden. Preaching without a prepared text, Pope Francis began -- as he did the night before at the Easter Vigil -- imagining the disciples desolate because "the one they loved so much was executed. He died." While they are huddling in fear, the angel tells them, "He is risen." And, the pope said, the church continues to proclaim that message always and everywhere, including to those whose lives are truly, unfairly difficult. "It is the mystery of the cornerstone that was discarded, but has become the foundation of our existence," he said. And those who follow Jesus, "we pebbles," find meaning even in the midst of suffering because of sure hope in the resurrection. Pope Francis suggested everyone find a quiet place on Easter to reflect on their problems and the problems of the world and then tell God, "I don't know how this will end, but I know Christ has risen." Almost immediately after the homily, a brief but intense rain began to fall on the crowd, leading people to scramble to find umbrellas, jackets or plastic bags to keep themselves dry. After celebrating the morning Easter Mass, Pope Francis gave his blessing "urbi et orbi," to the city of Rome and the world. Before reciting the blessing, he told the crowd that "in every age the risen shepherd tirelessly seeks us, his brothers and sisters, wandering in the deserts of this world. With the marks of the passion -- the wounds of his merciful love -- he draws us to follow him on his way, the way of life." Christ seeks out all those in need, he said. "He comes to meet them through our brothers and sisters who treat them with respect and kindness and help them to hear his voice, an unforgettable voice, a voice calling them back to friendship with God." Pope Francis mentioned a long list of those for whom the Lord gives special attention, including victims of human trafficking, abused children, victims of terrorism and people forced to flee their homes because of war, famine and poverty. "In the complex and often dramatic situations of today's world, may the risen Lord guide the steps of all those who work for justice and peace," Pope Francis said. "May he grant the leaders of nations the courage they need to prevent the spread of conflicts and to put a halt to the arms trade." The pope also offered special prayers for peace in Syria, South Sudan, Somalia, Congo and Ukraine, and for a peaceful resolution of political tensions in Latin America. The pope's celebration of Easter got underway the night before in a packed St. Peter's Basilica. The Easter Vigil began with the lighting of the fire and Easter candle in the atrium of the basilica. Walking behind the Easter candle and carrying a candle of his own, Pope Francis entered the basilica in darkness. The basilica was gently illuminated only by candlelight and the low light emanating from cellphones capturing the solemn procession. The bells of St. Peter's pealed in the night, the sound echoing through nearby Roman streets, announcing the joy of the Resurrection. During the vigil, Pope Francis baptized 11 people: five women and six men from Spain, Czech Republic, Italy, the United States, Albania, Malta, Malaysia and China. One by one, the catechumens approached the pope who asked them if they wished to receive baptism. After responding, "Yes, I do," they lowered their heads as the pope poured water over their ...
Thu, 13 Apr 2017
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- In a gesture of service toward marginalized people, Pope Francis washed the feet of 12 inmates, including three women and a man who is converting from Islam to Catholicism. Although in Jesus' time, washing the feet of one's guests was performed by slaves, Jesus "reverses" this role, the pope said during the Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord's Supper April 13 at a prison 45 miles from Rome. "He came into this world to serve, to serve us. He came to make himself a slave for us, to give his life for us and to love us to the end," he said. Pope Francis made his way by car to a penitentiary in Paliano, which houses 70 men and women who testified as a witness for the state against associates or accomplices. To protect the safety and security of the prisoners, only a live audio feed of the pope's homily was provided by Vatican Radio as well as selected photographs released by the Vatican. The Vatican said April 13 that among the 12 inmates who participated in the foot washing ceremony, "two are sentenced to life imprisonment and all the others should finish their sentences between 2019 and 2073." In his brief homily, which he delivered off-the-cuff, the pope said that upon his arrival, people greeted him saying, "'Here comes the pope, the head of the church.'" "Jesus is the head of the church. The pope is merely the image of Jesus, and I want to do the same as he did. In this ceremony, the pastor washes the feet of the faithful. (The role) reverses: The one who seems to be the greatest must do the work of a slave," he said. This gesture, he continued, is meant to "sow love among us" and that the faithful, even those in prison, can imitate Christ in the same manner. "I ask that if you can perform a help or a service for your companion here in prison, do it. This is love, this is like washing the feet. It means being the servant of the other," the pope said. Recalling another Gospel reading, in which Jesus tells his disciples that the greatest among them must be at the service of others, Pope Francis said Christ put his words into action by washing his disciple's feet and "it is what Jesus does with us." "For this reason, during this ceremony, let us think about Jesus. This isn't a folkloric ceremony. It is a gesture to remind us of what Jesus gave us. After this, he took bread and gave us his body; he took wine and gave us his blood. This is the love of God," the pope said. Vatican Radio reported that several other inmates took an active role in the liturgy, including four who served as altar servers. Other inmates prepared homemade gifts for the pope, among them were two dessert cakes, a handcrafted wooden cross and fresh vegetables grown in the prison garden. The evening Mass was the second of two Holy Thursday liturgies for Pope Francis. The first was a morning chrism Mass in St. Peter's Basilica.
Thu, 13 Apr 2017
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Always preach the whole truth of the Gospel with humility and respect and never be afraid to offer that truth just "one sip at a time," Pope Francis told the world's priests. The Gospel is truth, "brimming with joy and mercy. We should never attempt to separate these three graces of the Gospel: its truth, which is non-negotiable; its mercy, which is unconditional and offered to all sinners; and its joy, which is personal and open to everyone," he said April 13 during the chrism Mass in St. Peter's Basilica. Presiding over the first of two Holy Thursday liturgies, Pope Francis blessed the oils that will be used in the sacraments of baptism, confirmation, ordination and the anointing of the sick. With Holy Thursday commemorating the day Jesus shared his priesthood with the apostles, Pope Francis led the more than 1,500 priests, bishops and cardinals in a renewal of their priestly vows and dedicated his homily to the importance of preaching with a joy that touches people's hearts. "The priest makes the message joyful by his whole being," he said, and it is in "little things" that this joy is best shared. For example, he said, by stepping into today's "no man's lands" to bring God's mercy to forsaken situations, by picking up the phone and scheduling a needed meeting, by patiently allowing others "to take up our time." The "good news" of the Gospel is not a thing, he said, but a mission that brings "delightful and comforting joy" to the evangelizer. The truth of the good news can never be an abstract truth for those who do not let it fully and concretely shape people's lives just "because they feel more comfortable seeing it printed in book," he said in a homily delivered in Italian. "The mercy of the good news can never be a false commiseration, one that leaves sinners in their misery without holding out a hand to lift them up and help them take a step in the direction of change," Pope Francis said. And the good news "can never be gloomy or indifferent, for it expresses a joy that is completely personal," coming from a father who cannot bear to have even one of "his little ones be lost." The Holy Spirit always helps communicate the joys of the Gospel in many, different ways for every age, every person and every culture. he said. These joys "need to be poured into new wineskins," so that "the good news is kept fresh -- and preserving it is necessary -- without turning sour but being poured out in abundance." The pope then offered priests three images of "three new wineskins" so that the good news may be full and contagious, inclusive and concrete, meek and truthful. Like Mary and the stone water jars at the wedding feast of Cana, be "filled to the brim," ready and willing to do God's will and courageously go out to assist others, the pope said. Like St. Teresa of Kolkata and the Samaritan woman who drew water at the well for Jesus, be concrete and help Jesus in his mission, he said. Just as Jesus called to the Samaritan woman, "I am thirsty," he calls to everyone, and Mother Teresa heard him calling her to take him to the poor and be his light. Mother Teresa was concrete with her smile and the tender way she touched people's wounds, the pope said. Priests need to be like this -- concrete and tender, he added. The last image is the "fathomless vessel of the Lord's pierced heart, his utter meekness, humility and poverty which draw all people to himself," he said. Priests have to learn from Jesus that "announcing a great joy to the poor can only be done in a respectful, humble, and even humbling, way." "Evangelization cannot be presumptuous. The integrity of the truth cannot be rigid," he said, because the truth was made flesh, was born a tender baby, and was a man who died on the cross. The Holy Spirit teaches the whole truth, but "he is not afraid to do this one sip at a time." Let the Spirit tell "us in every situation what we need to say to our enemies" as he illuminates every small step forward. "This ...
Tue, 11 Apr 2017
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis and cardinals present in Rome will formally approve the canonizations of two of the children who saw Mary in Fatima, a large group of Brazilian martyrs, three child martyrs from Mexico and two priests. The Vatican announced April 11 that the "ordinary consistory," as the gathering is called, will take place April 20, a little more than three weeks before Pope Francis is scheduled to travel to Fatima, Portugal. Although it cannot be confirmed until the consistory is held, the pope is expected to canonize the children, Blessed Francisco Marto and Blessed Jacinta Marto, during a Mass at the Fatima shrine May 13, the 100th anniversary of the first time Mary appeared to the siblings and their cousin, Sister Lucia dos Santos. The other causes to be approved formally April 20 are: -- The "Martyrs of Natal," Brazil, including: Blessed Andre de Soveral, a Jesuit priest; Blessed Ambrosio Francisco Ferro, a diocesan priest; Blessed Mateus Moreira, a layman; and 27 others. They were killed in 1645 in a wave of anti-Catholic persecution carried out by Dutch Calvinists. -- The "Child Martyrs of Tlaxcala," Mexico -- Blessed Cristobal, Blessed Antonio and Blessed Juan -- who were among the first native converts in Mexico. They were killed between 1527 and 1529 for refusing to renounce the faith and return to their people's ancient traditions. -- Blessed Manuel Miguez Gonzalez, a Spaniard born in 1831. He founded the Calasanzian Institute, a religious order of women dedicated to educating other women. -- Blessed Angelo da Acri, an Italian Capuchin priest who was born Luca Antonio Falcone. A famed preacher, he was known for his defense of the poor. He died in 1739 and was beatified by Pope Leo XII in 1825.
Mon, 10 Apr 2017
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Despite recent and repeated terrorist attacks against Egypt's minority Christian communities, Pope Francis will not cancel his visit to Egypt. "The pope's trip to Egypt proceeds as scheduled," Greg Burke, Vatican spokesman, told Catholic News Service by email April 10. The pope is scheduled to meet governmental and interfaith leaders during an April 28-29 visit to Cairo. "Egyptians are looking forward to Pope Francis' visit, although the atmosphere at present is heavy," Father Rafic Grieche, spokesman for the Egyptian bishops, told CNS April 10, the day after the attacks. "The pope's mission is to be beside his brothers at the time of difficulty. Now is the real time that he can bring peace and hope to the Egyptian people as a whole and to the Christians of the East, in particular," Father Grieche added. He said people were uneasy entering churches with metal detectors and other security measures. "It's not like going to a normal church. But we need these measures to keep people safe," he said. He said after the attack, he celebrated a Mass with 2,000 people. "The people knew already about the attack in Tanta, but they did not want to be afraid. In the evening, they also came for the prayers of the Holy Week," Father Grieche said. Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II was in the Cathedral of St. Mark in Alexandria April 9 for the Palm Sunday service, when an explosion went off outside the church. Security footage appeared to show a security officer direct a man who was seeking entry into the cathedral to go through a metal detector. The man took a step under the detector then backed up a step, followed by a huge explosion that cut off the camera feed. Earlier, a bomb exploded 70 miles away inside the Church of St. George in Tanta, 50 miles north of Cairo, during its Palm Sunday service. Estimates say at least 44 people were killed and more than 100 injured in the two attacks, making it one of the deadliest against the nation's Christians in decades. It was the single deadliest day for Christians in decades and the worst since a bombing at a Cairo church in December killed 30 people. Pope Tawadros told the Italian national network Rai News April 9 the attacks would "not damage the unity and cohesiveness" of the Egyptian people. "Egyptians are united before this terrorism," he said, adding that "these vile attacks that hit people of peace in places of prayer demonstrate that terrorism lacks any religion." Sheik Ahmad el-Tayeb, grand imam of al-Azhar University, also condemned the attacks, calling them a "despicable terrorist bombing that targeted the lives of innocents." Retired Coptic Catholic Bishop Antonios Mina of Giza, Egypt, said the incidents were an attack against the nation's unity, its Coptic Christians, "to remind them that they have no rights, and against all Christian minorities of the country that anxiously await Pope Francis." "Despite it all, we will never lose hope. These atrocious gestures make us firmer in the faith and stronger," he said. "Egypt's Christians are warriors of hope." One Catholic leader highlighted his country's failure to address the real causes behind the Palm Sunday massacres. Speaking to "the officials and the wise of this country," Coptic Catholic Bishop Botros Fahim Awad Hanna of Minya said that "you don't fight terrorism with words or slogans, nor with security or armies alone." "What have you done for social, economic, health, political and human justice? What have you done for the poor and downtrodden? What have you done to reform thought, expression and religious discourse?" In a posting on his Facebook page, Bishop Fahim said that when Pope Francis goes to Cairo, he "will come to say no to terrorism and evil, and yes to goodness and fraternity. Love will never fail." Around the world, religious leaders offered prayers. Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said the attacks on the churches were "unspeakable persecution." ...
Mon, 10 Apr 2017
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Jesus does not ask that people only contemplate his image, but that they also recognize and love him concretely in all people who suffer like he did, Pope Francis said. Jesus is "present in our many brothers and sisters who today endure sufferings like his own -- they suffer from slave labor, from family tragedies, from diseases. They suffer from wars and terrorism, from interests that are armed and ready to strike," the pope said April 9 as he celebrated the Palm Sunday Mass of the Lord's Passion. In his noon Angelus address, the pope also decried recent terrorist attacks in Sweden and Egypt, calling on "those who sow terror, violence and death," including arms' manufacturers and dealers, to change their ways. In his prayers for those affected by the attacks, the pope also expressed his deepest condolences to "my dear brother, His Holiness Pope Tawadros, the Coptic church and the entire beloved Egyptian nation," which the pope was scheduled to visit April 28-29. At least 15 people were killed and dozens more injured April 9 in an Orthodox church north of Cairo as Coptic Christians gathered for Palm Sunday Mass; the attack in Sweden occurred two days earlier when a truck ran through a crowd outside a busy department store in central Stockholm, killing four and injuring 15 others. The pope also prayed for all people affected by war, which he called, a "disgrace of humanity." Tens of thousands of people carrying palms and olive branches joined the pope during a solemn procession in St. Peter's Square under a bright, warm sun for the beginning of Holy Week. The pope, cardinal and bishops were dressed in red vestments, the color of the Passion, and carried large "palmurelli," bleached and intricately woven and braided palm branches. Hundreds of young people led the procession into St. Peter's Square and later, youths from Poland handed the World Youth Day cross to young representatives from Panama, where the next international gathering will be held in January in 2019. In his homily, the pope said that the day's celebration was "bittersweet." "It is joyful and sorrowful at the same time" because the Mass celebrates the Lord's entrance into Jerusalem as the people and disciples acclaim him as king, and yet, the Gospel gives the account of his passion and death on the cross. Jesus accepts the hosannas coming from of the crowd, but he "knows full well that they will soon be followed by the cry, 'Crucify him!'" the pope said. Jesus "does not ask us to contemplate him only in pictures and photographs or in the videos that circulate on the internet," but to recognize that he is present in those who suffer today, including "women and men who are cheated, violated in their dignity, discarded." "Jesus is in them, in each of them, and, with marred features and broken voice, he asks to be looked in the eye, to be acknowledged, to be loved," the pope said. We have no other Lord but him: Jesus, the humble King of justice, mercy and peace. Jesus enters the city of Jerusalem as the true Messiah, who is a servant of God and humanity, the pope said. He is not a dreamer peddling illusions, a "new age" prophet or con man; he takes on the sins and sufferings of humanity with his passion. Jesus never promised honor and success would come to those who follow him, rather, the path to final victory requires picking up the cross and carrying it every day, Pope Francis said. "Let us ask for the grace to follow Jesus faithfully, not in words but in deeds. Let us also ask for the patience to carry our own cross, not to refuse it or set it aside, but rather, in looking to him, to take it up and to carry it daily," he said.
Fri, 07 Apr 2017
ROME (CNS) -- Preparing for the 2018 Synod of Bishops on youths and the celebration of World Youth Day 2019 in Panama, the Catholic Church needs to examine how it speaks to young people, several of them told a Vatican meeting. The church needs to learn how to communicate with young adults who "don't know the church is looking for us," said Suness Jones, a 22-year-old U.S. delegate to the Vatican Youth Forum. The April 5-9 forum was organized to discuss ways both to prepare young men and women for the synod and World Youth Day, but also to engage with young people on the issues affecting them most. Addressing some 300 young adults from around the world April 6, Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, secretary general of the Synod of Bishops, said as a sign of the "pope's affection for young people," he personally chose the theme, "Young people, faith and vocational discernment." The synod, which will be held in October 2018, is not designed as a study on young people nor will it be led by them, the cardinal said, but the Vatican hopes it will be a synod "with young people" and one that helps them better express and share their faith. "The general disconnection from church is one of the biggest challenges" the church faces in reaching out to youths and young adults, said Paul Jarzembowski, assistant director of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Secretariat of Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth. "One of the biggest things young people face today is just this feeling that they may not feel that the church loves them, cares for them, even knows they exist. And so they become indifferent, they become disconnected," he told Catholic News Service April 6. The church needs to focus on evangelization "not because we need more numbers," but to let young men and women know they are appreciated and that their "gifts are important to building the kingdom of God," he said. Jarzembowski represented the United States at the Rome meeting along with Jones, who is a lay missionary for NET ministries in the Diocese of Fort Worth, Texas. Young men and women, she told CNS, "want to be known as part of a church that loves them, that cares for them, that sees them as valuable." Ashleigh Green, a 25-year-old social worker in the Diocese of Broken Bay, Australia, also spoke on the church's need to reach out and she focused specifically on young adults who are marginalized and suffering due to violence, drugs or alcohol abuse in their homes. Green told the assembly of one her most recent cases: a 14-year-old girl living in a Catholic Care group house after being removed from her home due to domestic violence and neglect. The girl, she said, proudly told her that she came up with her own religion. When asked more about the religion she made up, the girl described it "as a religion where everyone is accepted as who they are. There was only love in this religion and no fighting with other religions." "As I listened to this girl talk, she essentially described everything that our church envisions itself to be. If this girl, who is living in a Catholic Care residential home, believes that she needs to create her own religion to find one that is welcoming, loving and accepting of people from all walks of life, it makes me wonder what her experience of the church has been." "My hope is that we not only address the issues of the youth who are sitting in the pews on Sundays, but that we go outside and be an outgoing church," Green told CNS. Catholics need to see "how we can engage young people on the margins and young people who don't normally have a voice and give those young people a voice." Jones, the U.S. delegate, said that with its focus on discernment, the synod could find ways to help young people trying to understand and discern their vocation, although the term often is misunderstood as referring only to priesthood and religious life. "I think in the United States when we think about vocation, we think about priesthood, we think about religious life, ...
Wed, 05 Apr 2017
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis strongly condemned a shocking chemical attack in Syria that left some 70 people, including at least 10 children, dead. "We are horrified by the latest events in Syria. I strongly deplore the unacceptable massacre that took place yesterday in the Idlib province, where dozens of civilians, including many children, were killed," the pope said April 5 before concluding his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square. Images of dead men, women and children lying on the streets provoked international outrage following the attack April 4 in a rebel-held area. Western leaders have accused Syrian President Bashar Assad and the country's military of perpetrating the attack, based on reports that warplanes dropped chemical bombs in the early morning. According to The New York Times, the Syrian military denied attacking the town and said the attack was caused by insurgents who blame the Syrian government for similar attacks "every time they fail to achieve the goals of their sponsors." Pope Francis encouraged those helping with relief efforts in Idlib province, and he appealed to world leaders to put an end to the violence. "I appeal to the conscience of those who have political responsibility at the local and international level, so that this tragedy may come to an end and relief may come to that beloved population who for too long have been devastated by war," the pope said. The attack occurred the same day representatives from more than 70 countries were gathering in Brussels for an April 4-5 conference on resolving the humanitarian crisis in Syria and to discuss ways to support a peaceful resolution to the conflict. Archbishop Paul Gallagher, Vatican secretary for relations with states, was among the representatives and addressed the conference April 5. The Holy See, he said, "remains deeply concerned about the tremendous human suffering, affecting millions of innocent children and other civilians who remain deprived of essential humanitarian aid, medical facilities and education." He called for humanitarian laws to "be fully respected," especially "with regard to the protection of civilian populations" and the "conditions and treatment of prisoners." "The Holy See invites all parties to the Syrian conflict to spare no effort to end the seemingly endless cycle of violence, to restore that sense of solidarity that is the basis of social cohesion and peaceful coexistence," Archbishop Gallagher said. The pope also said his thoughts and prayers were with the victims of the bombing of a metro station in St. Petersburg, Russia, that killed 14 people and left 50 wounded. Chaos erupted April 3 when a bomb was detonated in a subway train. Police said the bomber was Akbarzhon Dzhalilov, a Russian citizen born in Kyrgyzstan. Following the attack, security forces said a second bomb was found at a nearby station, but it had failed to explode. "As I entrust to God's mercy those who have tragically died, I express my spiritual closeness to their families and to all who suffer because of this tragic event," Pope Francis said.
Wed, 05 Apr 2017
The Conference on the Church in Africa hosted by the University of Notre Dame’s Rome Center, March 22-25, sought to provide perspective for the future of the Church on that continent. In doing so, it brought together four cardinals, six bishops, three heads of religious orders, priests and nuns, theologians and laity, including African students. Spiritan Father Paulinus Odozor, organizer of the conference, is the Nigerian-born first son of a local Catholic businessman, and his mother also had been in business before devoting herself to her husband and nine children. Asked the source of his vocation, Father Odozor cites his time as an altar boy who attended an Irish Augustinian school in northern Nigeria. “The Church just grew on me,” Father Odozor told Our Sunday Visitor. “I loved it, and I loved the priests I knew, so naturally I became a priest.” Father Odozor did post-graduate studies in Rome and Toronto, specializing in the American Jesuit moral theologian, Richard McCormick. Since 1999, he has been on the Notre Dame theology faculty and has been a faculty advisory member of the Center for Ethics and Culture at Notre Dame, which was a major sponsor of the Africa conference. In 2003 and 2004, Father Odozor helped organize two conferences at Notre Dame in response to the pastoral letter of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, “A Call to Solidarity with Africa.” The wide-ranging, four-day conference recently held in Rome was a follow-up to those from over a decade ago and dealt with the momentous changes that have since taken place. Africa is Christianity’s main growth area. In 1900, Christians were some 10 percent of the continent’s population, but now they encompass 50 percent. It is estimated that by 2030, the number of African Catholics will exceed that of European Catholics. A few years after that, it is expected that African Catholics will outnumber those in Latin America, as well. While African Catholicism has huge potential, it also suffers growing pains. Africa’s challenges include corruption, terrorism, the ravages of AIDS, environmental degradation and colonial influences in subtle forms. During the recent conference in Rome, OSV spoke with Father Odozor about the challenges and opportunities for the African Church. Our Sunday Visitor: Africa’s problems seem as formidable as its promise. What did the conference aim to do? Father Paulinus Odozor: To sharpen awareness for a new level of conversation within the Church in Africa, which will help us face both our own problems and those within society, and to help us invite other parts of the Church, where the Faith might be in decline, to share Africa’s hopes and joys of the Gospel. OSV: What did the conference achieve? Father Odozor: There was an openness, which reflected a willingness to face difficult issues rather than evade them. It showed that Catholicism is now an African religion, speaking from inside the cultures rather than from outside, with enough confidence to celebrate all aspects of the Church but also to criticize its defects. This more mature Church is better equipped to face complex questions. OSV: There was much laughter as the Nigerian Cardinal John Onaiyekan, several bishops and other speakers told stories and cracked jokes, creating a friendly atmosphere. This was attractive, but isn’t there a danger of complacency because of the Church’s liveliness and strong growth? Father Odozor: The jokes and the conviviality are not marks of unseriousness. They are in fact indications of trust in the Lord. And they show that Christian life is not a dreary thing. However, one of the speakers, Obiageli Nzenwa, a Nigerian laywoman who is a human resources consultant, gave a timely warning about not patting ourselves on the back because of what we’ve achieved. Many participants showed awareness that we are challenged now to take the Faith to a new stage; it has to be deepened in the next generation. One question raised in the conference was whether factors ...
Wed, 05 Apr 2017
In honor of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s 90th birthday on April 16, we look at nine defining themes of his life and ministry. Christian unity Pope Benedict has exhibited the importance of Christian unity, an implicit desire of Christ at the Last Supper (see Jn 17:21). As a young priest, he was a theological adviser at the Second Vatican Council, and years later his papacy demonstrated the conciliar shift in the Catholic Church’s relations with other Christians. In his inaugural homily as pope, Benedict said that a primary function of Petrine ministry “consists of guaranteeing the communion with Christ.” And so he aimed at stronger relations with Orthodox, Anglican and Protestant leaders. Sympathetic to alienated Anglicans, in 2009 he provided for the personal ordinariates for Anglicans wishing to enter into full Communion with the Church. And with the Society of St. Pius X, which had broken with Rome following the council, he also initiated talks directed at reconciliation. Liturgy In “The Spirit of the Liturgy” (Ignatius Press, $21.95), published in 2000, then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger sought to foster a greater love and devotion for liturgy. In it, he advocated for, among other things, ad orientem worship — when the priest and people together face the Lord — and the importance of sacred music. As pope, he identified the risk for rupture of the post-Vatican II Church with its preconciliar self. This was a driving force behind the universal permission he granted as pope in 2007 to priests for celebration of the Mass according to the 1962 Missal — or what he styled the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite. He saw this as necessary to bring the Church closer “to an interior reconciliation in the heart of the Church.” Truth An urgency of a prophet is found in the thought of Pope Benedict, especially where pursuit of truth is concerned. In a homily he delivered to the cardinal-electors shortly before his own 2005 election as pope, he spoke clearly and simply of the modern culture that subjectifies everything. He spoke of this modern attitude of “relativism” as “letting oneself be ‘tossed here and there, carried about by every wind of doctrine.’” He went on, “We are building a dictatorship of relativism that does not recognize anything as definitive and whose ultimate goal consists solely of one’s own ego and desires.” As a shepherd of truth, Benedict steered the Church gently toward our true goal, Jesus Christ. Relationships Pope Benedict has written extensively on the communion of relationships within the Trinity and has shown — relying on Augustinian theology — how the primordial Trinitarian relationships set a pattern for our own human relationships. In a 2009 homily, he noted that “if our fundamental relationship with God is not living, if it is not lived, then none of our other relationships can take their correct form.” In his own life he has shown the importance of human relationships, as well. He constantly strove to remain active in dialogue with others, even with those believed by some to be his “enemies.” Consider his 2005 meeting with Hans Küng. The pope’s guest described the meeting as “a sign of hope” that, despite their differences, they could focus on what they had in common: “we are both Christians, we both serve the same church and, despite all the controversies, we respect one another.” Doctrine It seems ironic that the longtime prefect for the Vatican’s doctrine office once said, “Christianity is not an intellectual system, a collection of dogmas, or a moralism. Christianity is an encounter, a love story; it is an event.” Cardinal Ratzinger’s defining ministry in service to the safeguarding of the Church’s doctrine, then, should be seen in this light. Pope Benedict emphasized that the ecclesial dimension of faith is necessary. As he told participants at the 2011 World Youth Day in Madrid, “We cannot follow Jesus on our own. Anyone who would be tempted to do so ‘on his own’ ... will risk never truly ...
Tue, 04 Apr 2017
THE POPE'S MONTHLY PRAYER INTENTIONS April 2017 Pope's Prayer Intention - Young People: That young people may respond generously to their vocations and seriously consider offering themselves to God in the priesthood or consecrated life. Urgent Intention - Landslide Victims: Victims of the landslide in Colombia and peace in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Venezuela, and Paraguay. Reflections on the Pope's Monthly Intentions This time of year many young people are thinking about graduation and preparing for their next step in life—high school, college, or work. Pope Francis asks us to keep them in mind as they consider their vocation. Most people think of a “vocation” as something that priests, and religious sisters and brothers have. But every baptized person has a vocation, a divine call to love and serve God. At baptism we were changed. We became members of the Body of Christ, the Church. This membership is unlike being part of a human association. It is organic and divine. Grace flows through the parts of the Body of Christ and each part, in one way or another, has the responsibility to be a healthy member of the Body and to build up the Body. It’s common, when considering the future, to think only in terms of our own personal preferences. We tend to leave God and his desires out of the picture. Pope Francis wants us to pray with him that young people will pray about their futures and be open to serving God in the priesthood and consecrated life. This is so important to Pope Francis that the next Synod of Bishops, which will meet in 2018, is entitled “Young People, Faith, and Vocation Discernment.” In a letter to young people about the next Synod he wrote: “I wanted you to be the center of attention because you are in my heart. I invite you to hear God’s voice resounding in your heart through the breath of the Holy Spirit.” Then, referring to Jesus’ response to his first disciples who, when asked where he was staying, said “Come and see” (John 1: 38), the Pope said: “Dear young people, have you noticed this look towards you? Have you heard this voice? I am sure that, despite the noise and confusion seemingly prevalent in the world, this call continues to resonate in the depths of your heart so as to open it to joy in its fullness. This will be possible to the extent that you will learn how to undertake a journey of discernment to discover God’s plan in your life.” May our prayers touch many young people this month and lead them to grow in their faith and ask the question, “What does God want me to do?” Scripture and Reflection How is my parish or community helping young people discern their vocation? How am I encouraging and helping young people to discern? John 21: 15-19 After he rose from the dead, Jesus asked Peter three times, “Do you love me?” When Peter responded “Yes,” Jesus told him to “tend” and to “feed” his sheep. Love, as St. Ignatius wrote in the Spiritual Exercises, “ought to manifest itself in deeds rather than in words.” Ephesians 4: 7-16 Diverse gifts and graces are given to individuals to build up the Body of Christ. For Reflection: Working Document for the 2018 Synod of Bishops meeting to discuss “Young People, Faith, and Vocation Discernment”: http://saltandlighttv.org/blogfeed/getpost.php?id=73692&language=en Pope Francis’ Letter to Young People when he presented the working document for the 2018 Synod of Bishops: http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/letters/2017/documents/papa-francesco_20170113_lettera-giovani-doc-sinodo.html Pope Francis’ Message for the 2017 World Day of Prayer for Vocations: http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/messages/vocations/documents/papa-francesco_20161127_54-messaggio-giornata-mondiale-vocazioni.html Apostleship of Prayer
Tue, 04 Apr 2017
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- A Catholic approach to development aims at helping people achieve both physical and spiritual well-being and promotes both individual responsibility and community ties, Pope Francis said. A development that is "fully human" recognizes that being a person means being in relationship; it affirms "inclusion and not exclusion," upholds the dignity of the person against any form of exploitation, and struggles for freedom, the pope said April 4 at a Vatican conference marking the 50th anniversary of Blessed Paul VI's encyclical on integral human development, "Populorum Progressio." Holistic or integral development, Pope Francis said, involves "integrating" all people into one human family, integrating individuals into communities, integrating the individual and communal dimensions of life and integrating body and soul. "The duty of solidarity obliges us to seek proper ways of sharing so that there is no longer that dramatic inequality between those who have too much and those who have nothing, between those who discard and those who are discarded," he said. Social integration recognizes that each individual has "a right and an obligation" to participate in the life of the community, bringing his or her gifts and talents to share for the good of all, the pope said. But it also recognizes that well-being is not something that can be improved or measured only with economic indicators; it includes "work, culture, family life and religion." "None of these can be absolutized and none can be excluded from the concept of integral human development," he said, because "human life is like an orchestra that plays well if all the different instruments are in tune with each other and follow a score shared by all." One of the major challenges to integral development today, he said, is the tendency to focus either exclusively on the value of the individual or to ignore that value completely. In the West, he said, culture "has exulted the individual to the point of making him an island, as if one could be happy alone." "On the other hand," the pope said, "there is no lack of ideological visions and political powers who have squashed the person," or treat people as a mass without individual dignity. The modern global economic system tends to do the same, he said. Because human beings are both body and soul, working for their well-being must include respecting their faith and helping it grow. The Catholic Church's approach to development is modeled on Jesus' approach to human flourishing, an approach that included spiritual and physical healing, liberating and reconciling people, the pope said.
Mon, 03 Apr 2017
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The first three refugee families from Syria welcomed by the Vatican left their temporary homes to start their new lives in Italy, and three new families took their places in Vatican apartments. The papal Almoner's Office, which helps coordinate Pope Francis' acts of charity, announced April 2 that two Christian families and one Muslim family moved the apartments that housed the first refugee families welcomed by the Vatican in late 2015 and early 2016. The two Christian families, the papal almoner's office said, arrived in March after "suffering kidnapping and discrimination" because of their faith. "The first family is composed of a mother with two adolescent children, a grandmother, an aunt and another Syrian woman who lives with them," the office said. The second family is a young couple, who had their first child -- a daughter named Stella -- shortly after moving into the Vatican apartment, the Almoner's Office said. "The mother had been kidnapped for several months by ISIS and now, in Italy, has regained serenity." The third family -- a mother, father and two children -- arrived in Italy in February 2016, the office said. The children have been attending elementary school in Italy while the mother has been attending graduate courses and currently has an internship. The Vatican welcomed the refugee families after an appeal made by Pope Francis Sept. 6, 2015, in which he called on every parish, religious community, monastery and shrine in Europe to take in a family of refugees, given the ongoing crisis of people fleeing from war and poverty. Archbishop Konrad Krajewski, the papal almoner, said that aside from providing a home for the three families, the office also continues to provide financial support to the three Syrian families whom Pope Francis brought to Italy after his visit last year to the Greek island of Lesbos and for the nine additional refugees who arrived later.
Fri, 24 Mar 2017
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Europe must recover the memories and lessons of past tragedies in order to confront the challenges Europeans face today that seek to divide rather than unite humanity, Pope Francis said. While the founding fathers of what is now the European Union worked toward a "united and open Europe," free of the "walls and divisions" erected after World War II, the tragedy of poverty and violence affecting millions of innocent people lingers on, the pope told European leaders gathered at the Vatican March 24. "Where generations longed to see the fall of those signs of forced hostility, these days we debate how to keep out the 'dangers' of our time, beginning with the long file of women, men and children fleeing war and poverty, seeking only a future for themselves and their loved ones," he said. Pope Francis welcomed the 27 European heads of state to the Vatican to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Treaties of Rome, which gave birth to European Economic Community and the European Atomic Energy Community. Signed March 25, 1957, the treaties sought to unite Europe following the devastation wrought by World War II. The agreements laid the groundwork for what eventually became the European Union. Entering the "Sala Regia" of the Apostolic Palace, Pope Francis placed his hand above his heart and bowed slightly to the European leaders before taking his seat. At the end of the audience, he and the government leaders went into the Sistine Chapel and posed for a photograph in front of Michelangelo's fresco, The Last Judgment. In his speech, the pope said the commemoration of the treaty should not be reduced to "a remembrance of things past," but should motivate a desire "to relive that event in order to appreciate its significance for the present." "The memory of that day is linked to today's hopes and expectations of the people of Europe, who call for discernment in the present so that the journey that has begun can continue with renewed enthusiasm and confidence," he said. At the heart of the founding fathers' creation of a united Europe, the pope continued, was concern for the human person, who after years of bloodshed held on "to faith in the possibility of a better future." "That spirit remains as necessary as ever today, in the face of centrifugal impulses and the temptation to reduce the founding ideals of the union to productive, economic and financial needs," he said. But despite achievements in forging unity and solidarity, Pope Francis said, Europe today suffers from a "lapse of memory" where peace is now "regarded as superfluous." To regain the peace attained in the past, he added, Europe must reconnect with its Christian roots otherwise "the Western values of dignity, freedom and justice would prove largely incomprehensible." "The fruitfulness of that connection will make it possible to build authentically secular societies, free of ideological conflicts, with equal room for the native and the immigrant, for believers and nonbelievers," the pope said. The economic crisis of the past decade, the crisis of the family "and established social models" and the current migration crisis, he said, offer an opportunity for Europe's leaders to discern and assess rather than "engender fear and profound confusion." "Ours is a time of discernment, one that invites us to determine what is essential and to build on it," the pope said. "It is a time of challenge and opportunity." Europe, he added, will find new hope "when man is at the center and the heart of her institutions" in order to stem "the growing 'split' between the citizenry and the European institutions which are often perceived as distant and inattentive to the different sensibilities present in the union." The migration crisis also offers an opportunity for Europe's leaders to refuse to give in to fear and "false forms of security," while posing a much deeper question to the continent's citizens. "What kind of culture does Europe propose ...